Celebratory candles, commitment and cupcakes mark finale of 50th Anniversary festivities

Happy Birthday to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. On September 26, 1970 Gaylord Nelson and others lit a light symbolically that has been shining brightly for over half a century.

On Saturday night, September 25, 2021 Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore held a candlelight ceremony on a Lake Superior beach to celebrate, to honor, and to recommit ourselves to keeping that light burning bright as we step into the next 50 years at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

There were speeches, a proclamation from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, flags created by the Stewards of Tomorrow students, cupcakes, candles, and all that Lake Superior beauty.

“When creating national parks or wilderness areas, politicians often speak of ‘future generations,’” Friends Executive Director Jeff Rennicke told the crowd. “Tonight, as we stand here on this beautiful Lake Superior evening in 2021, we are that ‘future generation’ that Gaylord Nelson had in mind. It is our turn now. We must take up the charge, we must become the light that sees this place into the future.”

Oleana Jurewicz, Stewards for Tomorrow student

13 year old Oleana Jurewicz said, “I love the lake. Plain and simple. It gives me a place to sail, to swim, even to relax and read a book. Not many people get to have the experiences it provides. These memories will stay with me forever. I wouldn’t have gotten to hike to a lighthouse on Sand Island if not for the Stewards of Tomorrow program. Nor would I have kayaked under the sea caves. We are so close to these activities and yet still many of us can’t enjoy them. When there are programs that take us out to see these new and exciting places, it benefits everyone – the people who get to go, the people who are inspired by the stories, and the awareness that is brought to the places we visit. To be able to share this place, explore it now, is a most remarkable gift.”

Governor Tony Evers, by proclamation, said, “Today, the state of Wisconsin joins the Red Cliff Band and Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and all other affiliated native nations, in continuing to utilize the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for cultural, economic, and recreational purposes, alongside the people who live in nearby communities and tourists who visit throughout the year, and in reaffirming our commitment to working with the National Park Service to maintain Wisconsin’s Jewel of Lake Superior as a center of cultural, historical, and natural importance for the entire nation.”

Read the Governor’s entire proclamation here.

Here’s to another 50 years in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, as we work to support the park in the areas of stewardship, accessibility, education and service. Join us and be the Light!

Luminaires on the Lake slideshow

Photos by Jeff Rennicke and Tad Paavlova

Wisconsin Governor issues proclamation celebrating Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and its positive impact

Today, September 25th, 2021 marks the end of the 50th Anniversary celebration for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; tomorrow will be the start of the park’s 51st year and an exciting future.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued a proclamation honoring the park’s first half-century and its positive impact on the state and its people. The proclamation also recognizes the need to continue to treasure and protect the park in the future.

Read the full text below.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

STATE OF WISCONSIN: OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

PROCLAMATION:

WHEREAS ; on September 26, 1970, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore was officially established by  the United States Congress as a national lakeshore, with the goal “to conserve and develop for the  benefit, inspiration, education, recreational use, and enjoyment of the public”; and 

WHEREAS; this national lakeshore, including the federally designated Gaylord Nelson Wilderness which covers approximately 80 percent of its land area, provides unparalleled views of Lake Superior, 21 islands, and 12 miles of mainland shoreline, with endless educational opportunities as well as  opportunities for recreational fishing, boating, sailing, sea kayaking, camping, and hiking throughout the  lakeshore; and 

WHEREAS; the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is Wisconsin’s only national lakeshore and it hosts over 250,000 visitors each year, who make essential contributions to the economic vitality of our state by supporting more than 560 jobs and spending approximately $39 million annually in surrounding communities; and 

WHEREAS; the National Park Service at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is tasked with preserving and protecting some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful shorelines, bold sandstone cliffs, and sea caves, as well as Anishinaabe homelands, historic lighthouses and fishing camps, and so much more; and 

WHEREAS; in addition to the people who call the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore home, including the  Anishinaabe who have inhabited the area since time immemorial, the area is home to hundreds of  species of plants, migratory and non-migratory birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, and  these rare communities, habitats, and species of plants and animals include some of the finest coastal  wetlands, sandscapes, and remnants of ancient forests in the Midwest; and 

WHEREAS; in 2020, more than 50 organizations, businesses, and individuals joined together to plan and implement a year-long, statewide celebration of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s founding with  an eye toward encouraging the next century of conservation of Wisconsin’s only national lakeshore; and 

WHEREAS; today, the state of Wisconsin joins the Red Cliff Band and Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and all other affiliated native nations, in continuing to utilize the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for cultural, economic, and recreational purposes, alongside the people who live in nearby communities and tourists who visit throughout the year, and in reaffirming our commitment to working with the National Park Service to maintain Wisconsin’s Jewel of Lake Superior as a center of cultural, historical, and natural importance for the entire nation;

Now, therefore I, Tony Evers, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do hereby proclaim September 26th, 2021 as the 51st anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore throughout the State of Wisconsin and I commend this observance to all our state’s residents.

Tonight, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore joins with park leaders and community members to close our year-long celebration. You’re invited to join us at Washington Avenue Beach at 7 p.m. for a candlelight commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

In addition to brief speeches by key stakeholders, you will be able to view the collection of flags created by the children of the Stewards of Tomorrow program displaying their hopes the lake and the islands, and enjoy a 50th Anniversary cupcake.

Join us tonight to be a part of history and the first steps toward the future. Learn more about tonight’s event here.

50TH LOGO

Watch now: Sense of Adventure: Inspire!

Once again, Shakespeare had it right. “Nature,” The Bard once wrote, “has music for those who will listen.”

Randall Adams has listened. A singer/songwriter from the Chippewa Valley who was once a sea kayaking guide in the Apostle Islands heard that music in the Islands and used that inspiration to write his song “A Day Among the Apostles.” 

The summer wind strumming the waves, the slow repeating verse of the surf, the voices in the bogs at sunrise. There is music in these islands – and poetry and art and a beauty that speaks to the artist’s soul, and through them, to all of us. The islands are more than just a place to recreate. They are a place to be inspired.

In our new installment of our “Sense of Adventure” series, part of our 50th anniversary summer celebration, we will look at the many ways these islands and this lake inspire us – poetry, art, jewelry making, night photography, music, even the inspiration to connect the islands through swimming, a kind of dance among the waves. 

“In our previous programs,” says Jeff Rennicke, Executive Director of Friends and host of the “Sense of Adventure” series, “we looked first at sea kayaking and island sailing, exploring the outer landscape. But when we travel here, we not only touch these islands, we are touched by them as well, and so with this show, we turn our focus inward to explore the inner landscape with a look at how these islands INSPIRE us.

Listen to and watch poetry, music, art, photography, and more…all inspired by the islands. And tell us, how do the Apostle Islands inspire YOU?

Website links featured in the program:

Randall Adams Music:
http://randalladamsmusic.com/

Austin Miller Studio: 
http://www.austinmillerstudio.com/

Sarah Weber Silversmith: 
https://sarah-weber-silversmith.myshopify.com/ 
and https://www.etsy.com/shop/swebersilversmith

Diana Randoph, Poet and Artist:
 https://www.dianarandolph.com/ and https://www.wfop.org/diana-randolph

Night sky photography:
You can purchase signed, numbered, matted and framed fine art prints from the Friends of the Apostle Islands website. 
https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org/home/shop/

Mark Weller’s website: https://time-stacking.com/

We encourage you to join the Friends as we work to protect the park we love. Join us here:
https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org/home/join-us/

Lakeshore Logbook – Warren Bielenberg

Warren Bielenberg serving as a volunteer-in-park at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the 33rd in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Warren Bielenberg was the park’s first  first Chief Naturalist. He says he was the fourth or fifth person on staff and arrived in March 1972.  


What positions(s) did you hold? 
Park Naturalist with duties in interpretation, cultural and natural resources.  I was promoted from GS-9 to GS-11 through accession of duties. When I left my position was filled by Phil Hastings Chief Park Naturalist, Dr Bob Brander, Chief of Natural Resources, and Kate Lidfors (Miller) Historian. 

Warren teaches a winter ecology class to students at the St. Louis School in Washburn in March 1975

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job? 
Dismantling the Michigan Island Fresnel lens and later putting it on display in the visitor center at Hermie Johnson’s store in Little Sand Bay. Most of the work was done by seasonal Rangers Karen Lindquist and Billy Morrin.  

Disassembling the Fresnel lens to remove it from the Michigan Island Light in 1972

That story involves after-hours beer drinking with a neighbor who was the NCO-in-charge of Bayfield Coast Guard Station. I had to negotiate with USCG District Commander for permission to save the lens, research how to dismantle the lens, and coordinate with park staff to remove, transport, and store it until it could be reassembled.  It’s super cool to know that it is the feature exhibit in the park headquarters visitor center. 

The 3- and one-half order Fresnel lens from the Michigan Island Light on display at the Little Sand Bay visitor center

What is the most fun experience you had in the park? 
Exploring the islands and mainland sections of the park by foot, boat, and snowmobile. 

Warren Bielenberg removing marijuana plants from Stockton Island

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park
During a November storm (I believe shortly before or after the Edmund Fitzgerald storm), Superintendent Pat Miller and I lassoed and were trying to safely drag a big log onto shore to keep it from damaging the Hokenson dock.  After I got home and warmed up, I tried to clean the film from my glasses only to discover that blowing sand had pitted the surfaces! 

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park? 
Ice under the Devils Island cliffs on July 4, 1972! 

Late season ice on shoreline cliffs in the Apostle Islands 

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride
Wow, where to begin. Starting initial interpretive activities. Working with Marjorie Benton and Elizabeth Fisher on family and local history.

A ranger talks with Elizabeth Fisher and Marjorie Benton on Raspberry Island

Converting two rooms in the old Booth Fisheries Cooperage building in Bayfield into our first visitor contact station.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Contact Station at the Booth Cooperage in Bayfield

Starting the birch bark canoe building demonstration and teaching Native American skills to Marvin DeFoe Jr., Donny Gordon and others whose names I don’t remember.

Superintendent Pat Miller helps Ron DePerry and Marvin Defoe JR. install ribs in a birchbark canoe during a demonstration at Little Sand Bay

Initial work in getting the Old Bayfield County Courthouse to house the NPS offices and visitor center. Finding and arranging to purchase the Hokenson Brother’s fish tug Twilite from a professor from UW-Eau Claire.   

The TWILITE returns to Little Sand Bay in 1977

What story from your time at APIS do you share most frequently? 
Probably receiving my Ojibwa name from Marvin DeFoe Sr., Lionel Roy, Hank Bressette, Bobby VanderVenter, and others and finding out from Dee Bainbridge what it really meant. 

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? 
Outer Island Lighthouse Why? I love all the lighthouses but that one is special because not many people get out there. 

Outer Island lighthouse

Warren Bielenberg transferred to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Site in September 1977.  He is now retired after a long career in the Park Service but still does volunteer work. We want to thank Warren for his entry into our 50th Anniversary Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.

Ribbon cutting celebrates Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway’s national designation

As the saying goes, “it’s not just about the road.” Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore joined leaders from many south shore communities in celebrating the National designation of the Lake Superior Scenic Byway, at a ceremony outside Legendary Waters Resort in Bayfield.

Hosted by Legendary Waters and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the event was held on the shores of Lake Superior with a view of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Chequamegon Bay.

Friends Board of Directors Chair Erica Peterson said it was a beautiful afternoon to showcase a long effort to mark this 70 mile route that includes a stop at Meyers Beach, Little Sand Bay and Frog Bay Tribal National Park.

The route reveals the many communities and their relationships with the ever-present Lake Superior and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Peterson said, “The designation adds depth and breadth to visitors’ experiences, and a sense of pride and connection for those of us fortunate to live in this beautiful area.”

State Representative Beth Meyers spoke during the event. Weona Wolf, Deputy Director of External Affairs for Governor Tony Evers, read the special proclamation.

Special thanks goes to Wisconsin Coastal Management and NOAA for the map of the route that can be seen or ordered at Lakesuperiorbyway.org.

You can also view a PDF document of the map and guide here. (Adobe Acrobat Reader or a similar PDF reader is required.)

Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Byway (WLSSB) begins its journey at the roundabout junction of US Highway 2 and State Highway 13 approximately 2 miles west of the Ashland city limits. The Byway continues for 70 miles on State Highway 13 up and around the Bayfield Peninsula and ends at the intersection of County Highway H and State Highway 13 in the Town of Cloverland in Douglas County.

The official logo for the Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway features a representation of the south shore coastline as well as a couple of islands in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

With the new additions of the WLSSB and the Door County Coastal Byway, Wisconsin now has three nationally designated byways. The third is the Great River Road, which was previously designated as a National Scenic Byway and is now elevated to an All-American Road. 

Read our related story from February, here. You can also visit www.lakesuperiorbyway.org where you will find maps, photos and information about all of the amenities and adventures in the communities along the Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway.

Photographs by Erica Peterson

Watch: Historic flag raising ceremony at Little Sand Bay

It was a milestone in history. For the first time since the creation of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the flag of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa was permanently raised over the park on June 23rd, 2021.

The National Park Service joined the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in raising the flags of the United States and of the Red Cliff Band outside of the Little Sand Bay Visitor Center. Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore provided funding for the flag pole and participated in the festivities.

Safety protocols for the ongoing pandemic limited the dedication ceremony to invited guests, who heard the following welcome message in the language of the Ojibwe people.

𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘻𝘩𝘰𝘰 𝘯𝘪𝘪𝘫 𝘣𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘫𝘪𝘨! 𝘕𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘸𝘦𝘥𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯 𝘣𝘪𝘪’𝘪𝘻𝘩𝘢𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘨 𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘢! 𝘖𝘫𝘪𝘣𝘸𝘦𝘸𝘪𝘸𝘢𝘨 𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪’𝘢𝘺𝘢𝘢’𝘢𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘯 𝘥𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘫𝘪𝘮𝘰𝘸𝘢𝘢𝘥, “𝘨𝘦𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘻𝘩𝘢𝘢 𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘸 𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘦 𝘈𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘨 𝘨𝘪𝘪 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘻𝘪𝘸𝘢𝘢𝘥 𝘪𝘸𝘪𝘥𝘪 𝘞𝘦𝘯𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘻𝘩𝘰-𝘰𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘥𝘢𝘴𝘩 𝘢𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘦 𝘦𝘻𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘬𝘢𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘮𝘰𝘸𝘢𝘢𝘥 𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘢 𝘢𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘸𝘪𝘯. 𝘎𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘢 𝘢𝘸𝘪𝘪𝘺𝘢 𝘮𝘪𝘻𝘪𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘬𝘢𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘪 𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘥 𝘈𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘸𝘪 𝘣𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘻𝘪𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘢. 𝘎𝘢𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘢 𝘢𝘸𝘪𝘺𝘢𝘢 𝘨𝘪𝘪𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘩𝘺𝘢𝘨, 𝘣𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘪𝘸𝘢𝘨, 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘥𝘰𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘢𝘨, 𝘢𝘸𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘪𝘺𝘢𝘨, 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘥𝘰𝘨 𝘪𝘸𝘪𝘥𝘪 𝘯𝘰𝘰𝘱𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘎𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘨𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘨𝘢𝘺𝘦 𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘪𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘸 𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘢𝘥𝘢𝘥 𝘈𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘸𝘪 𝘪𝘻𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘸𝘢𝘢𝘸𝘪𝘯.”

Hello my friends! We are happy you all came here! Our Ojibwe elders tell us that, “truly a long time ago those ancient Natives traveled here to the Apostle Islands, however, we have always called this place home. Everything all over the land has created our way of life. Everyone (the fish, the birds, the insects, the spirits in the forest, Lake Superior, and sky) is where our culture comes from.”

Watch a video of the ceremony with an introduction by Friends Executive Director Jeff Rennicke
Video edited by Jason Naify

Little Sand Bay is part of the ceded territories of the 1842 Treaty and is located within the Red Cliff Reservation boundaries. The flags of two nations fly together in recognition of the place and stories we share.

Learn more about 𝘔𝘪𝘴𝘬𝘸𝘢𝘢𝘣𝘦𝘬𝘰𝘯𝘨 (Red Cliff Nation) and listen to the welcome in the Ojibwe language here.

Lakeshore Logbook – Heidi Van Dunk

Heidi Van Dunk at Stockton Island

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are collecting and sharing the stories of people connected to the islands, whether they are park guests, former residents or former park employees.

This is the 32nd in our series called “Lakeshore Logbook,” a collection of memories provided by former National Park Service employees.

Living and working in the park on a day to day basis, they’ve experienced a lot to be sure. We hope you enjoy their perspectives.

Heidi Van Dunk started as a volunteer in about 2002. She worked at Little Sand Bay at the Visitor Center front desk and Susan Mackreth was her supervisor. She gave tours of the Hokenson Fishery and enjoyed the view of Lake Superior from the front window. 


What positions(s) did you hold? 
The next season after volunteering, I was hired as a seasonal interpretive ranger by Neil Howk, stationed at both LSB and Sand Island. From that first season onward, I worked for Interp for four glorious seasons. In 2006 I was hired into my first permanent position with APIS as the Human Resources Assistant. As Jim Stowell, interpreter extraordinaire told me, “Congratulations! You have a lot of resources, Heidi, and they are all human.” It was a good fit. 

Heidi at the information desk in the park headquarters visitor center

My next position was into the Facilities division as the FMSS Specialist, hired by retired FM Randy Ross—I assisted in the management of all the incredible assets in the park (buildings, trails, docks, interpretive media, lighthouses, landscapes, etc.). This position with facilities opened the door for me to become the Facility Manager at APIS in 2015. I did this job until 2020. My career at APIS was golden, and truly every day I am thankful for everyone that believed in me (EVERYONE!) and took a chance on me. I love the NPS, and I love working in facilities. 

What is the coolest thing you did in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (APIS) as part of your job?  
So many! One of the coolest things had nothing to do with my daily round in facilities. Having the opportunity to join the APIS Resources team to band Piping Plovers on Long Island was amazing It’s a rare gift to be a part of this incredible experience, and I will always remember that day.  

Heidi and two others cradle bags holding piping plover chicks waiting to be banded by researchers on Long Island

What is the most fun experience you had in the park?
Working with facilities—seeing the absolute incredible work and work ethic that this team has. Facilities performs some of the most labor-intensive work, often gritty and stinky, infested by bugs, and they still smile at the end of the day. 

Heidi joins the facilities management team for a 2019 group photo

Please share a memorable experience you had in the park.  
Being tossed into Lake Superior as my parting gift before relocating to Flagstaff Area National Monuments. We were shooting a video for a training program, the theme was on facility leadership…thank you, Chief of Mischief Garyck Hoenig.  

Heidi (on the right) welcomes us to the “facility” at the Stockton Island campground

What is the most amazing thing you saw in the park?  
During my season as a volunteer, I was asked by Neil Howk to spend an overnight on Manitou Island. This was my first time on one of the islands. I recall sitting on the end of the dock watching the skies darken as a storm approached in the distance. That storm never reached Manitou, but I watched it all as it slid across the sky, dropping rain everywhere, but not on my head. 

The dock at the Manitou Fish Camp
Heidi gets a ride in the park’s windsled

Please share an accomplishment from your tenure at APIS that gives you pride.  
Working with our facility team, coworkers, and leadership team, to write the project for the Little Sand Bay Visitor Center. I was able to see that project develop from conception all the way through to completion. It took the APIS village of staff, local community support, regional involvement, and guidance from the Denver Service Center to bring this project to completion.  

The visitor center and the shelter for the fish tug TWILITE at Little Sand Bay

If you could return to just one place in APIS, where would you go? Why?  
That’s a tough one….I love the many places of the Apostles, the superior lake, and the memories of solitude bring me calm; however, what I would like to return to is the people, to gather together one more time and catch up on each other’s lives. 

Heidi and the 2020 facilities management crew on the Roys Point dock

Heidi Van Dunk is currently the facility manager at Flagstaff Area National Monuments in Arizona. We want to thank Heidi for her entry into our 50th Anniversary Lakeshore Logbook. We look forward to sharing more Logbook entries with you in the coming weeks. You can find the whole series here.

Luminaires on the Lake: Apostle Islands Anniversary Commemoration set for Saturday, September 25th

Join your Friends for Luminaires on the Lake: Apostle Islands Anniversary Commemoration on Saturday, September 25th at 7p.m. in Bayfield.

You’re invited to join us at Washington Avenue Beach for a candlelight commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, to wrap up the year-long celebration.

Light a candle at the beach candlelight luminary display. View the collection of flags created by the children of the Stewards of Tomorrow program displaying their hopes the lake and the islands. Be a part of history and the first steps toward the future.

If it rains, the event will be held in the Ferry Terminal Building. For more information contact: Jill@friendsoftheapostleislands.org or call 715-449-6900 or visit https://friendsoftheapostleislands.org.

New research published: Apostle Islands play key role in regional spread of American marten populations

Consider yourself fortunate if you’ve seen an American marten on the Apostle Islands. These small, fur-bearing mammals are hard to spot but fun to watch. The slender-bodied, state-endangered weasels are also the subject of ongoing research by scientists at the University of Wisconsin. Their work was the subject of a session at the 50th Anniversary Research Stewardship Symposium. It’s also the basis for a new scientific paper.

The researchers used DNA from hair samples to estimate how many animals are in the park and where their relatives live. They published the results of that work in late July, 2021. In it, they said they examined the unique genetic sequences of 483 individual martens, 43 of which inhabited the Apostle Islands.

“Our findings suggest that the Apostle Islands were naturally recolonized by progeny of translocated individuals and now act as a source back to the reintroduction sites on the mainland. We suggest that the Apostle Islands, given its protection from disturbance, complex forest structure, and reduced carnivore competition, will act as a potential refuge for marten along their trailing range boundary and a central node for regional recovery.”

The research, led by Matt Smith and Dr. Jon Pauli, found that many of the animals on the islands are related. Interestingly, one island marten was traced to a first-order relative 50 miles away on the mainland. First-order means sibling, parent or child.


Indirect gene flow between subpopulation pairs of American marten (Martes americana) within a regional recovery network: Apostle Islands (WI-AI), Chequamegon National Forest, Wisconsin, United States (WI-CF), Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin, United States (WI-NF), central Upper Michigan (MI-Central), eastern Upper Michigan (MI-Eastern), and western Upper Michigan (MI-Western).

Marten study map
Map and description above it are from the publication

American martens eat both plants and animals including voles; their diet varies by season. They live alone except during the mid-summer breeding season. Litters of 1 to 5 kits are born the following spring.

American martens were heavily trapped at the peak of the north American fur trade. Populations peaked in 1820 and fell off dramatically until the turn of the century. Their habitat includes northern parts of the midwest and northeastern United States as well as Canada and Alaska. It’s great to know that the Apostle Islands are a safe haven for these fascinating animals.

Read the published scientific paper here. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

Park visitors praise Stockton Island amphitheater and ongoing accessibility initiatives

Timing is everything. On August 13th, the National Park Service and Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore conducted a grand opening of the accessible amphitheater at Presque Isle on the Lakeshore’s Stockton Island. 

Pandemic protocols required the ceremony to be small and unannounced to the public but some park visitors who just happened to be on the island at the time took in the program and they’ve provided some heartwarming feedback.

The new $55,000 amphitheater, with its gently sloping ramps, wide benches, and accessible entrance, is now available to visitors with mobility challenges. It is connected by boardwalk to the dock, contact station and the accessible campsite already in place on the island.

Boater Cindy Kellet of Minnesota was in the audience. She graciously shared a video she made. She said, “As boaters, we love coming to Stockton; it is beautiful for its hiking, beaches and of course the safe docking.Our daughter Genna is handicapped so very much appreciate the accessibility built in! Thank you for all you do!”

The video features Ojibwe tribal member and NPS staff member Bazile Panek talking about the significance of the location and of the Ojibwe name given the amphitheater, maawanji’ i ding (a place where we all come together.)

You will also hear a part of Friends Board Chair Erica Peterson’s presentation. Peterson was a ranger on Stockton Island 37 years ago. She said, “This is a place of reverence and intention. A place inspirited by others.” Peterson shared a poem written by Yvette Viets Flaten called “T is for Trail.” The poem asks us to “ponder all who have come before us to fish, to build, to live in this sacred place… each storyboard etched into this earth… and fall in step with all those who’ve trodden these trails before.” 

Panek invited listeners to make an offering of tobacco to the fire in gratitude of the island. Peterson and Park Superintendent Lynne Dominy cut the ribbon and encouraged everyone to take the trail to Julian Bay Beach after the ceremony.

Video by Cindy Kellet

Separately, a Stockton Island ranger shared this report from grand opening day. “One of the visitors that day was from a sailboat. With tears in her eyes she expressed her gratitude for the amphitheater. Her husband had been hit by a car two years earlier and permanently disabled. As his primary caregiver, this was her first trip out to do something they had always done together. The tears were partially of joy that, even though he would probably never be able to visit Stockton, he would so appreciate the effort we made to make it possible for other people with mobility issues.”

Peterson says these initial responses are gratifying and motivating. “This was “Friends” first big project with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and our second in support of our accessibility pillar,” she says. “Due to the interest generated it has already spurred two other big projects that will be funded in cooperation with NPS – access at the heavily used Meyers Beach and nearby sea caves, and a 2 mile accessible boardwalk to Sand Island Lighthouse.”

An advisory group has been formed to recommend additional projects focused on universal accessibility. The Friends will actively pursue outside funding to match federal funding and keep our partners, supporters and legislative representatives connected with our efforts. 

Click here for more coverage of the grand opening ceremony and the many people who made this project possible.

Click here for more about the first steps taken in the Meyers Beach accesabiliity project.

To join our cause and support accessibility in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, click here.